Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Of course, every case is different by its facts and circumstances, and every case presents issues that require particular decisions and actions by the lawyer for the licensee or license applicant. But, based on more than 30 years extensive experience, there is in fact an identifiable “Blueprint” for legal services that will always position the client’s case for the best possible result. So, in addition to the special requirements of the individual unique licensing law problem, this is what the potential client needs to hear the licensing attorney proposing to do:
Early, comprehensive and thorough fact-gathering including:
• Issue formal legal demands compelling the licensing agency to share ALL of the investigation package and ALL of the evidence the agency intends to use against the licensee.
• Subpoena all witness statements, photographs, agency records and other material the agency relies on for its allegations or decision against the licensee.
Early and regular intervention to reduce the case including:
• Immediate intervention with the State investigator and other licensing agency officials to persuade the licensing agency not to go forward, or to go forward on a less serious set of allegations and proposed penalty.
• Negotiate on a regular and on-going basis with agency representatives, including the Attorney General or Department Counsel, and including an Administrative Law Judge sitting as Settlement Officer, to reduce the allegations and the proposed penalty.
• Present alternative proposals for license discipline, or case-specific conditions for license issuance.
Professional preparation of the case, specifically:
• Identify, find and prepare for direct and cross-examination all witnesses supporting the client's position.
• Prepare cross-examination of all witnesses opposing the client.
• Create diagrams, video, maps, photo-journals, bench-book and other exhibits that support the client's position.
• Prepare, file, and argue legal motions that may limit the agency’s ability under the law to discipline the licensee, or may keep out of evidence material that is unfavorable to the client.
Presentation of the case at hearing:
• Object to the admissibility of unreliable evidence against the licensee.
• Offer into evidence all exhibits that support the licensee.
• Examine and cross-examine all witnesses.
• Argue the case and submit a thorough post-hearing brief, applying the law to the evidence admitted at the hearing.
Completion of applicable post-hearing processes:
• Submit formal written objections to an unfavorable proposed Decision and argue a request for re-consideration of any unfavorable decision.
• Appear before the licensing agency board or commission to argue in support of or in opposition to the Proposed Decision.
• Preserve the client's rights to file an expedited writ proceeding challenging in civil court an unfavorable agency decision.
• Preserve the integrity, accuracy and completeness of the administrative record in the event that a challenge in court is necessary.
The right licensing lawyer knows not only to do all of these things in every case, but HOW to do them, and how to do them effectively.
During any a free or initial consultation, the listed tasks are the tasks the client need to be listening for when the attorney describes his or her plan for the case. If all of the lawyer's talk is about hearings or past victories or a box-load of clients — or all about negotiations, or all about any other limited slice of the licensing law case — the client should beware and move on. If the proposed Agreement for Services or Retainer Agreement doesn't spell out all of these critical services, the client needs to talk further or talk to other lawyers before signing on the dotted line and surrendering a check.
A good if harsh standard to keep in mind for all hired help, attorneys and others: do it right and do it well, or go do it for somebody else.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. We are uniquely qualified in the specialized field of California license law. Partner Mike Claessens has held a California contractor's license for 30+ years. Partner Christine McCall is a former California Administrative Law Judge with years of experience presiding over license law hearings and issuing rulings and orders. Partner Bob Cramer is a veteran litigator who has more than once appeared before the U. S. Supreme Court. All License Advocates partners are each former prosecutors who have handled dozens of jury trials and hundreds of court trials and hearings.
Each of our partners has more than 30 years experience in litigation and administrative law. The depth of experience and breadth of skill and knowledge of our partners is the basis of our exceptional commitment to client service and superior results.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. What we most appreciate is the quality and character of our clients. California occupational licensees are, at heart, entrepreneurs. They have made significant investments of their time, money and effort in pursuing their occupational goals. They know how to get a job done; how to put their heads down and run toward an objective; how to soldier through hard times; how to persevere; and how to hold the course until they prevail.
Our clients are remarkable people, with remarkable accomplishments to their credit. Often, they forget to see themselves in this light.
We admire our clients' capabilities, ambitions, and determination and, as their legal counsel, we make the same quality of commitment and investment on their behalf. We are honored when a client chooses License Advocates Law Group as legal counsel. It is our duty and our privilege to make certain that the honor of that choice is evident in the quality of our service to our clients.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. The most common question we are asked is, of course, "how much will it cost and how long will it take?"
The answers to those questions are largely driven by the degree of fight that is made necessary by the State licensing agency -- something that is hard to quantify at the outset of the case. But this much is known and is always true: Defending the right to the occupational license will take far less time than necessary to become qualified for the license in the first instance. And the cost of defending or obtaining the occupational license will be far less than the costs already invested in the education, training, and testing to qualify for the license and the income that is forfeited and forever lost if the right to the license is not defended to the fullest legal extent.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. My favorite case is always the one I am working on at the moment. It's the case I am thinking about all the time, even when I am not actually "working." It's always the hardest case ever, and the one that matters the most.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. We wish that our clients knew how deeply we care about achieving a good result for them. We wish they knew how hard we try, how relentlessly we strategize, research and game-plan their cases. We wish they knew just how much the outcome of their cases matters to us.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. Continuing education is a constant in the professional life of good lawyers. We attend multiple multi-day seminars and practice clinics each year. We read all the new cases from the courts every single business day. We read the legal newspaper and the ABA practice board daily. We subscribe to the key publications in our practice area and we work hard to stay on top of the stack. We talk law constantly, and we think about it when we aren't talking.
Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?
A. Law changes substantially constantly. New case law happens suddenly and often. Technology makes new techniques first possible, and then required, almost immediately. It is exciting to work in such a dynamic and fluid field, but the constant changes are also highly challenging and require relentless vigilance and attention. We think we are among the attorneys who thrive on these dynamics.